Waking Gods Page 13

 

How’d we miss that?

 

[We didn’t detect anything so we forgot to look with our own eyes. Can you measure the field around the robot?]

 

I get…28 cm. Now, do we call the General?

 

[I have to call Kara. They won’t be able to defend themselves. Like a lamb to the slaughter.]

 

 

FILE NO. 1439


INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT COUTURE, CONSULTANT, EARTH DEFENSE CORPS

Location: Somewhere in the Atlantic

—How long until you reach your destination, Mr. Couture?

—We’ll be there by morning. It’s a good thing too, I’m starting to get seasick. We’ve been hitting rough seas for the last couple days.

—I understand all too well. I do not fare well at sea.

—I’m glad you called. Kara just got off the phone with Dr. Franklin. What’s this I hear about an energy field? They told us we didn’t detect anything around that robot.

—We did not. We are still unable to detect anything. But I have seen the video footage and you can trust me when I say that nothing will come closer than eleven inches to that robot. Dr. Franklin also believes that, in the event of a fight, your energy weapon will not reach the alien robot, nor that it could vaporize it, as it does normal matter.

—That I figured out on my own.

—How?

—Made sense. The energy weapon we fire through the sword is just a focused version of the omnidirectional burst Themis releases when she’s saturated with energy. If it were really harmful to her, we’d have obliterated ourselves when we destroyed Denver airport. So I know it won’t vanish if we fire at it, but will our weapon do anything?

—Your weapon might not be completely ineffective. According to Dr. Franklin, it could have some effect on the alien device, like a push or a blow, if it reaches it. It most likely will not inflict significant damage.

—A push? You mean we were wasting our time training on that weapon? Kara’s aim is getting pretty good.

—You were shooting at water.

—We blew a rock to kingdom come, once.

—Was it moving and shooting back?

—No. But it was a big rock. What about the sword and shield? That definitely has an effect. We left a ding on Themis’s left foot with the shield during training. Is there any chance it could go through that energy field?

—We do not know. But even if it did, General Govender was quick to point out that you have had very little combat training, absolutely none against a real opponent.

—We’re a little short on two-hundred-foot people to spar with. What about your friend? Can he help?

—I do not know which associate of mine you are referring to.

—You know who. The one who told you about Themis, about her name, Titans, aliens. You know, your friend.

—I…I can not—

—You’re trying to come up with a way to tell me you learned all of this without anyone’s help and you “can not” think of anything that doesn’t sound completely preposterous. Am I close?

—In the vicinity. Suffice it to say that if such a “friend” did exist—

—I’m sorry, but your way out of this is a hypothetical?

—It has been a long day. As I was saying, if such a friend did exist, I would unfortunately be unable to secure his help.

—Then you need better friends. Why won’t he help? He can’t really wish us all dead.

—Perhaps he does not know how. He might also believe the outcome of this encounter to be predestined or unavoidable. Either way, I believe his intentions are good even if I do not fully comprehend his reluctance.

—Hypothetically…Sounds to me like he’s holding something important from you. But what do I know? I never met the guy.

—I do not completely disagree.

—So, let me get this straight. No one will help. Our one long-range weapon won’t work. The sword probably won’t do anything either, and even if it did, we’re terrible at it. Do you have anything nice to say?

—That is a fair assessment of the situation. You will understand when I say that we are hoping your presence will not be seen as a sign of aggression.

—You’re hoping? I don’t wanna sound pessimistic, but what if it’s not happy to see us? How are we supposed to fight this thing if we can’t even touch it?

—You are not. It would seem prudent to delay the introductions.

—Is that your opinion or the EDC’s?

—Mine.

—I thought so. And how do you suggest we do that? We’ll be in London and assembled in less than twelve hours. I don’t suppose they’ll let us sit there for very long before they send us.

—Then I would suggest postponing your arrival.

—Not sure the boat captain will listen to me.

—Probably not.

—Oh, no! We’re not highjacking the boat. There’s a, well, a boatload of soldiers aboard. Kara’s good, but she’s not that good.

—Do not sell yourself short, Mr. Couture. You have proven yourself quite capable as a soldier in the past. But I did not have an armed assault in mind. A mutiny would be, shall we say, frowned upon, under the circumstances. I was thinking more along the lines of the European labor movement of the nineteenth century.

—Yes. We should unionize. That’ll show them.

—In the late 1800s, the French anarchist Émile Pouget submitted a report at a labor congress in France in which he advocated for work slowdowns, a strategy that had proved successful in Britain. The British unionists referred to the slowdown policy as Ca’Canny, which did not translate directly into French. However, the French had long likened slow and clumsy work to that of a man wearing wooden shoes, or sabots, and Pouget, in his report, coined the term sabotage.

—You want me to break the boat?

—If done properly, it would delay your arrival and offer plausible deniability. Please accept my apology.

—For what?

—For giving French lessons to a French-speaking linguist.

—Oh, I didn’t know. I never studied French etymology.

—I am aware of that. I still find it impolite to give anyone lessons in their field of specialty.

—You can make it up with some mechanical knowledge. There’s a room called Engine Room so I can probably find the engine—engines?—in there, but I don’t know anything about engines, let alone boat engines. I sure as hell don’t know how to break one “properly.”

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